Choose Chicago at Risk of Losing 40 percent of Its Budget
Choose Chicago, the Windy City's convention and tourism bureau, could lose more than $7.2 million in budgeted revenue this December due to a state budget stalemate. The cut funds would represent some 40 percent of the organization's annual operating budget. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bulk of the state budget last week, citing that it was nearly $4 billion out of balance and in need of reform. If no resolution is reached by July 1, the Rauner administration identified Choose Chicago as a possible area where funding would be suspended.
Last week, Choose Chicago sent out an "action alert" email, asking supporters to sign a petition to give the agency its "statutorily mandated funding from the state's hotel tax". According to the petition, "approximately half of every tourism dollar spent in the state is spent in Chicago. To cut an organization that is a driving force for the city and state's economic recovery is irresponsible and unwarranted." In preparation for the vote, the organization suspended its Chicago Epic summer advertising campaign by pulling it out of the national market two months early, and planning for the winter regional campaign has been halted.
Choose Chicago was launched in 2012 under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who set the goal of 55 million visitors a year by 2020; more than 50 million people traveled to the city in 2014.